Sherry Colb is the Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell Law School, a former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, and an expert in criminal procedure and animal rights. She is the author of the book “Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger? And Other Questions People Ask Vegans” which explores the ethics of veganism and humanity’s relationship to animals. Colb describes the recent killing of the giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo as a moral outrage.
“The Copenhagen Zoo put to death a young, healthy giraffe named Marius, in front of a crowd of onlookers that included children. The zoo decided to kill Marius because he was not “suitable” for breeding, since his genes were too common in the giraffe population.
“The slaughter of Marius, a gentle young animal, was not – as some described it – ‘euthanasia.’ Euthanasia literally means a ‘good death’ and refers to occasions when we kill someone for his or her own good.
“Zoos regard their animals primarily – and sometimes exclusively – as natural resources to be utilized, as mere exemplars of their DNA to be mined for more exemplars and for entertainment value. In zoos, animals who normally range over huge distances are confined to enclosures that are pale reflections of the native environments of these living beings.
“Many are rightly outraged by what happened to Marius. He was not a thing – a container of DNA – to be destroyed when he proved no longer useful to his owners. Perhaps his death will not have been in vain if it inspires people who are outraged on his behalf to reconsider their daily choices as consumers.
“As we rightly criticize the Copenhagen Zoo for treating a living, feeling animal as a thing, let us stop doing the same at the grocery store, in paying for the slaughter of other beings, less visible but no less worthy than Marius the sweet young giraffe.”
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